Tuesday, March 24, 2009

smart home/ and smart people!

Jessa Brinkmeyer just sent me over a link for the newly renovated and opened Smart Home at the Museum of Science and Industry. It looks so amazing- I cannot wait to go take a tour this weekend! One really exciting aspect to the smart home (other than it's solar power capabilities and other state-of-the-art new energy efficient technologies)- is that Jessa, who owns Pivot boutique (the city's first eco fashion boutique)- was asked to curate the closet in the smart home! My pillow top dress featured in the Spring 2009 collection will be on display in the closet of the smart home for the next several months- so exciting!

The pillow top dress can also be found at Pivot for sale- the reason that it is smart is that it is made from a hemp/ and organic cotton blend- hemp requires no pesticides and very little water to grow- it is also extremely durable. The fabric was pretty headache-inducing when I first received it, but I ended up dipping it in a natural logwood dye to dim it down a bit, and give it an aged look.

Talking about Jessa- she is currently featured herself in a great article in Chicago Magazine - She is one of 6 recipients who have been given a 2009 Chicago Green Award. Congratulations Jessa! It must be quite an honor to receive such recognition from the city- keep up the great work!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

becoming pros....


There are lots of perks to living in Chilsen, but really it's the super cool people,
who I encounter when i come up for air from time to time. One of the coolest chicks I
have had the pleasure of hanging with is AbbyG. Her dog, Judah, is my dog, Stella's boyfriend. This means we can hang while our dogs romp and make out.
AbbyG has this really lovely blog:
check it if you get a minute- she has a fantastic writing style and an exuberance for words and verbal landscapes not matched by many....

i also love the title of her blog- it is a nice play on words and i instantly identify with the idea of being somewhere in the middle of self expression, and self preservation.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

in the beginning there is the end....

Back in December, along with several amazing and talented performers, visual artists, and collaborators of all sorts, I staged my own funeral. Unfortunately, prior to having this blog, I haven't had the space to post these images. So here they are!

I was looking at shapes and concepts for my fall 2009 collection, in the mourning attire in Victorian mourning photography, I used the funeral/ performance as a vehicle to showcase a preview of some key pieces from the collection. Anthony Vizzari has a museum of mourning photography in Oak Park, Illinios- in a space connected to his home. He very generously allowed me to view his collection of intense antique mourning photographs while doing research for the performance and the collection.

My very dear friend and lifetime collaborator Muffie Connelly, an insanely talented choreographer and dancer, created the movement for the performance. She is also one of the founding members of The Happydog performance company, a multi media collective of talented individuals, who create works with an emphasis on dance and theatrics. They are the key players who made my funeral come to life (ha!)....

The idea for the funeral came during a time of great hope and change. Obama was just coming into office- and the Bush regime was ending. I felt it appropriate to address the end, in order to usher in the beginning. The funeral was not a political piece, but a personal one.
I had also just finished reading the Tibetan book of Living and Dying, and I have been studying Buddhist philosophy for some years now. I am fascinated by the Western ideas of death and dying versus the Eastern views on the same. I wanted to welcome death, while creating an environment to welcome new life, and new beginnings. All things must come to an end, and impermanence is the only universal truth. So why not have a little ceremony? It wasn't all solemn and tears- the last respects paid to the "casket" was a lot of fun. The casket was actually a 5.5 foot long pinata filled with candy and toys. I suppose I liked the idea of putting the notion of death and finality- to rest. Of course, a dance-party followed with Club Lifestyle dance troup from Philly, doing their thing! Take a look at some of the images...

this is an image of the amazing mural my friend Hatuey Diaz painted on the wall of happydog in Chicago's wicker park where the last service was held- his murals (made mainly with house paint from home depot) served as the main set for the performance.

This is a rather dark image of Amanda Lopez-Betanzos as one of my mourners, She is another happydog founding member- and all around bad-ass performer.

This is a lovely image of the mourners performing a movement with chalk.

An audience member paying her last respects to the pinata casket- I had that pinata made around the corner from me in Pilsen- for a whole $50.00!!! I was so excited...

Muffie, and myself after the performance- she's my hero!

All photos taken by Kari Skaflan- please check out her amazing online Fashion magazine Above the Fray .... it is a very cool magazine that highlights emerging designers and fashion trends.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

katie holmes and karaoke

It's still pretty chilly in Chicago right now, but I am already in spring mode. Right now I'm in the process of shipping out spring pieces to my accounts, and day dreaming of the lovely light-weight organic cotton batiste dress that I got from my friend Kee. Her collection, loup charmant has the most beautiful pieces of whisper weight organic bits that embody carefree summer days. Well, dreams are free- and even though it is still so gray here- I know that spring is just around the corner and I cannot wait to wear this dress!

I feel like getting in the springtime mood requires the right kind of soundtrack. In the winter I prefer really depressing music, preferably from the 90's- or some good old leonard cohen.
Right now I am listening to pandora.com a lot- the david bowie station rocks.
I am somewhat obsessed with the song, "starman" - so much so, that I asked my friend to create a special star motif on my face for my karaoke birthday last month! I love karaoke- wish i had more time to do it. This great place called Fogata Village right in Pilsen has bilingual karaoke (Spanish and English) and it is BYOB- so it was a delightful spot to ring in year 28 for me. The first entire page in the English karaoke list was ABBA songs, so you know I was sold! I can rock out any song by ABBA but "supertrooper" ended up being the show stopper.
I also must mention that they have out-of-this-world tortilla soup....

Exciting News: some clothing pieces from the frei spring 2009 collection will be featured in the new movie Katie Holmes is currently filming in New York called "The Extra Man."
Katie was captured by some paparazzi wearing the cotton and hemp blend indigo stripe "new K pant" (named after the lovely Katherine Hepburn and her love of a good tailored trouser)- check out this pic I pulled off a gossip site! There are other photos out in blog land of her in these same trousers, but unfortunately she is wearing ugg boots with the pant legs stuffed into the boots and it is difficult to see the cut! These trousers are being shipped to all kinds of amazing shops across the country as we speak. Hooray- do what Katie does.... ethical and stylin!

Nothing quite says spring like getting your hands dirty in a dye project....
Today my interns and I dyed the vibrant Tibetan orange pieces from the spring 2009 collection in the gorgeous natural madder root bath. This dried root can be boiled and a deep scarlet dye extracted. I went for a rich orange for this collection, and I achieved this color by adding vinegar as the acid, and used tin salts to mordant the fabric prior to dipping it into the dye bath. This dying process is a completely natural one. The tin mineral salts act as a binding agent between cloth and dye, and the small amount of tin (which can be recycled and re-used over and over)- is not harmful but naturally occurring- to see images of the hand-dyed madder root pieces in the spring collection click here.

well, that's all for now, I must sleep, tomorrow the ever thrilling meeting with my accountant because tax season is upon us....
good night**